Monday, March 23, 2015

Never Ending Knights

It's been almost a month since I started this group of Garrison knights and sergeants. They hit a near perfect wave of obstacles ranging from the minor things like repeated calls for physical labour during my best painting light hours and the resulting tiredness in the evenings to major things like having trouble choosing the colours and heraldry and not liking the 1st attempts to an odd reluctance on the part of the figures to accept paint graciously, something I experience now and then. (Cynics might suggest the problem is actually to do with how tired or distracted the painter is.)

In any event they have been bypassed several times while I worked on something else but after having a fairly relaxing day with a game and only 2 hours of snow clearance I decided to force finish them before they got quietly put away unfinished for ever. Luckily gloss varnish hides a multitude of sins.

Sir Daniel Lichen and Sir Edward Longbottom and 2 henchmen almost ready for battle.
When I started in on them, they were going to be a 4 figure unit on unarmoured horses. They would serve as a supporting unit for the Earl of Cowcross or as medium cavalry if needed. Sir Daniel just seemed to need a barded horse though, and possibly a front row seat. Then, the more I thought about it, the less likely it seemed to me that the sergeants and lesser knights and other men at arms would be serving in separate units. It seemed more likely that they should be permanently attached as a 2nd rank to the great lords and knights on their barded horses leaving it to mounted crossbowmen and some sort of border horse to form the light or medium cavalry.

Then I changed the grid size........

My existing and in progress units were designed as 2 stand units to fit a 4" grid. They look a little lost on the 6" grid so either bigger stands or more of them are called for. Either way will allow me to use more figures without making the games bigger, longer or more complex but if I go for more bases I can also add more depth to the units without adding complexity.

So now the plan is to convert the existing partially built armies to a smaller number of larger units, 6 stands if heavy, 3 if light. Since most of the units are not uniformed its mostly a matter of shuffling but, this just might mean "having" to buy more figures.......

Monday, March 2, 2015

Army of the Midlands: The King's Rangers

Few men now inhabit the forests and plains that were once the heartland of the ancient kingdom of Valdur. Wars and waves of invaders have turned it into a wilderness battleground. The very site of the Royal Seat, a fortress perched high on a hill, has been lost but Dunklerne is not forgotten  and the lands along the river, reaching from the mountain to the sea are not called the "Northern Border" but "the King's Hold" and it is guarded not by levies but by troops of the King's Household.
King's Rangers of the Hold Guard or the Green Jacks as they are known in the taverns.
Garrison 25mm.

It says something about history and perceived threats that while the primary responsibility for the Eastern and Western borders of the Midlands lies with the feudal lords and their retainers and tenants,  the Northern Borders are guarded by full time, paid, garrisons even though it has been a generation since the last incursion by the Riders of the Northern Federation.

The lands to the West were once the founding nations of the Great Kingdom of Valdur and the descendants of those ancients may boast of the past in from their wild strongholds but they pose no real threat to the Midlands. To the East there have always been enemies and while the fortunes of war have ebbed and flowed over the centuries, invasions from the East have always drained away in the end.

To the North however, there once stood the Kingdom of Dale. Here the ancestors of the Midland nobles first set foot on the Continent and carved a home for themselves. From there they first fought against and then for the Valdurian Queen and then became more and more apart of that Kingdom until in the end, they made it their own. It was long years thereafter that a new wave of invaders came over land from the East and joining with rebellious Valdurian tribes and Nobles who resented still the Dalish newcomers. Together with the men of the west they tore the Kingdom apart.

In times of plenty relations are good between the Midlands and the North and trade flows across the mountains but when the winters grow cold, the summers dry and the harvest fails, then raiders cross the border again instead of merchant caravans and so the King has tasked Sir John and his Black Company to hold the Great Pass and along the North West frontier he has built posts and filled them with soldiers. The posts themselves are held largely by infantry but horsemen are needed to patrol the lands between the posts. At first these were lancers, sometimes accompanied by a few archers mounted on old nags but as the crossbow evolved and was imported from the Empire, a new soldier appeared. This is the Mounted Crossbowmen trained to shoot from horse back or to charge sword in hand when the situation calls for it, In peace they patrol the borders, in times of war they act as scouts and flankers supporting the Knights, spearmen and foot archers of the main battle line.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A New Gathering

Its been a struggle but the new version of Gathering of Hosts is available from the link to the left 
(or here). The rules are actually fairly close to what I have been using since 2013 but the wording and how things are presented have changed as was determined on last fall.

Habit and expectation initially had me following a conventional approach of defining troop types and having charts for movement, shooting and so on. This works just fine, especially if working with a fairly small number of known troop types but it does get your mind into a certain set when someone says "Peltast" and you think "Reg C LMI w javelin, lts and shield" and since I have been trying to imagine the armies that I am describing as I go, well the writing was getting to be excessive to fit in each change in imaging for very little return and attempts to predefine the building blocks was restrictive unless simple was to be left very far behind.

Here is the last of the 3 games, the smallest (6 units each vs the 9 used earlier) and the fastest, most exciting, with the highest tension and a last minute upset Westman victory largely due to their use of speed and their ability to move through woods to keep melee and missile fire to a minimum. It was extremely close though, several Westlands units escaped when 1 hit away from destruction.  Honours of the Game though went to the new unit of Midlish Mounted Crossbowmen who almost won the game single handedly. More on them in a later post.

So, in a series of small games I experimented with various options to make the game easier to describe and customize from counting noses to having up to 4 single stand units allowed to form temporary groups to, well more things than I care to remember and recount. I finally settled for some old simple ideas with fixed units 1 to a grid area but instead of defining any generic troop types I just described each of the units that I intend to build and added special unit rules that apply just to them. (A touch of WHAB I suppose) It didn't take long to find that some special rules could be cut and pasted in for various similar units in various armies which will simplify gaming but I have skipped the bit where I explain what it represents and why the unit has it. This sort of thing will be added to illustrated army lists over the next year, along with personalities and potted history. One page per army. 

But that's for the future. There is painting and basing to be done before I play again!